- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

Juan Martin del Potro continued his scorched-earth march to the Legg Mason Classic final Saturday, blazing past fourth-seeded Tommy Haas 6-2, 6-1 at William J. FitzGerald Tennis Center.

“I played very good,” said del Potro, who will go for his fourth straight title Sunday against Viktor Troicki.

“I think Tommy was a little more tired than me, and that was important.”

The Argentine uncoiled powerful serves and withering forehands and kept Haas on his heels, forcing the 30-year-old veteran into 26 unforced errors. As he has throughout his rise up the ATP tour rankings - he has soared from No. 50 to No. 19 since January - del Porto used his reach, quickness and forehand Saturday to vanquish Haas.

“He makes everything quite dangerous,” Haas said. “You can’t really say what his weakness is.”



Haas won two of the first three games before del Potro reconnoitered and reeled off nine straight. Once del Potro started rolling, Haas knew his day - and his tournament - was over.

The Hamburg, Germany, native said del Potro’s point-in, point-out power wore him down.

“He hasn’t really been pushed too much in his matches,” Haas said. “Once a guy that’s feeling confident gets the lead and starts feeling more confident its tough to come back.”

Del Potro has dispatched 12 of his last 14 opponents in straight sets.

“Tomorrow is the most important match,” del Potro said. “I win all the matches. Now I have to win tomorrow to win another tournament.”

In the night semifinal, Troicki pummeled Igor Kunitsyn into submission 6-4, 6-2 and advanced to his first appearance in an ATP final. A night earlier, Troicki defeated top seed and defending champion Andy Roddick.

The Serbian needed 1 hour and 5 minutes to take the first meeting between the two players.

Troicki righted himself in the first set after a haphazard opening effort. After falling behind 3-2, he sent Kunitsyn scrambling across the court in pursuit of several well-placed forehands. He won 78 percent of his service points and aced his counterpart four times to take the first set.

He dominated the 26-year-old in the final set. Troicki raced to a 5-1 advantage, let Kunitsyn take the seventh game, then bullied his way to a 40-0 lead and assured victory with a 130 mph ace.

Before his 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Roddick on Friday, Troicki’s lone highlight was an upset of No. 4 Novak Djokovic in the quarterfinals at Umag in July 2007. The 22-year-old will face del Potro for the first time. But thanks to his titan-slaying track record, Troicki isn’t fazed by his opponents’ recent dominance.

“I know that if I play well, I can beat anybody,” Troicki said Friday. “I don’t have any pressure.”

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